Just who is Ashley Graham?
If you have ever watched America’s Next Top Model you will know who body positive spokesperson Ashley Graham is. If you have ever looked in to the realms of body positivity you will know who Ashley Graham is. Is you have ever scrolled down my husband’s facebook feed your will know who Ashley Graham is…
Ashley Graham is a very beautiful plus sized model as well as a body positive ambassador, but I wonder, is she the type of role model our daughters should be aspiring to? One that sends out the belief that no matter what your shape or size you too can be a beautiful, sexy, confident woman. Most people’s immediate answer would be yes but I would like to investigate a little further.
This week on social media a video has been doing the rounds of a C4 podcast interview between Jameela Jamil and Krishnan Guru-Murthy. Within the interview Jameela makes the point that celebrities such as Kim Kardashian are toxic role models for young girls. That they are teaching girls to value the perfect body (as society sees it) and that self worth comes from achieving a state of perfection. Jamil used the phrase ‘you’re are selling self consciousness’ and even went so far as to say that the Kardashians are acting as ‘double agents for the patriarchy’.
So if the Kardashians are to be avoided within the teenage girls world of Insta and Snapchat then who is to be followed?
Is Ashely Graham the right choice for a body positivity role model?
Ashley Graham would be an obvious choice. She tells our youth that their bodies are beautiful as they are whether they fit in to society’s mould or not. I commend the achievements of Ashley Graham as someone that has succeeded against the odds and is now using her status to tell young girls that big is also beautiful.
However what I would really love in the world of celebrity is ‘brains are beautiful’. Celebrities such as Ashley Graham that are part of the body positivity movement are still focusing on the body as a means of creating self worth. They are still using their sexuality as a means of measurement, albeit within an alternative body shape. My husband does not have Ashley Graham on his facebook feed because she has beauty within, it’s because she is a stunningly sexy woman and by promoting that as one of her main assets we are still seeing the same importance placed on the woman’s body as a sexual object. A sexual object satisfying and serving the male gaze and keeping us firmly in place as the other.
Shouldn’t we be teaching our daughters to develop their minds, that their bodies are simply functional entities? Shouldn’t we be teaching them that their self worth comes from who they are, their morals, their ethics and not from a ‘beautiful body’ be that a large beautiful body or a small beautiful body. Why do we have to focus on the body at all?
I read today about a female physicist that created 300 wikipedia pages detailing accomplished female scientists. She did this in response to the fact that only 17% of scientists documented on wikipedia were female. We live in a world that values the male brain over the female brain and if we want our daughters to know that they are more than a body then we have to put alternative female role models out there, not just alternative body shapes.
So whilst I truly believe that Ashley Graham is a very positive influence on young girls of today that see thinness as the ultimate quest, I also believe that it is only half way to where we need to be.
Its not all about how we look…….
It only seems fitting to finish this article with a few alternative female role models…..
Ashley Quails aged 20 – founder of whateverlife.com, a company she began at aged 14 and now worth an estimated 1.5 million.
Teira Guinn aged 22 – student at MIT but already working as a Rocket Structural Design and Analysis Engineer for the Space Launch System that Boeing is building for NASA.
Emma Cline aged 29 – an accomplished young author who’s first novel in 2016 ‘The Girls’ was shortlisted for the John Leonard award.
and so on…………